Meet Leila and Lee. Leila, the silent girl, is just happy to be in a story. Stag Lee, the troublemaking teen, tries to emulate his absent father with just a cap to remember him by. In this down-to-earth production of David Greig’s moving play, two lonely lives entwine after a fateful event causes them to flee from their home. Originally performed within Edinburgh University, these four perfectly cast actors depict the struggle to find meaningful experiences and relationships when the chances are against them.
The tone of the company is clear in its blocking and staging, which is simple and seeks to stress the power of the story
The play itself is simple, lyrical and yet packed with emotional depth, all of which this talented cast draws out in full. It’s romantic, but thankfully performed without pretension. You’ll find nothing here but straightforward and believable acting, never veering into the melodrama that a weaker company might be tempted into. Martin MacLennan, particularly, is greatly aided by the gravity of his (slightly) older years, but the talent accompanying this brings a weight and stillness to the play’s proceedings that should be envied by any actor.
The company offers wonderfully sympathetic portrayals of a tragic pairing and the others connected with them, while maintaining an almost surprising level of comic bathos. Hearing the cocky but fragile Stag Lee attempt to rap about his virility, his hypothetical sexual exploits, or his “doe hoes” continually brings the performances down to a relatable level. And this just makes the moments of poignancy and distress – which Stag Lee and the others really get to grips with – all the more authentic. The mentions of self-harm are surprisingly not overdone, as a topic so easily wrongly pitched.
The tone of the company is clear in its blocking and staging, which is simple and seeks to stress the power of the story rather than distract the audience with complicated tech or otherwise. In spite of some action that could have been done in a subtler way, Auld Stag have certainly achieved some powerful student drama.